Life on Marsden: Is a sneaky little peek at a partner's phone ever justified?

You're in a perfectly decent relationship, but paranoia prompts you to look for reasons for ending it

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I picked up my girlfriend's phone from the sofa with trepidation, my pulse quickening. I could hear her in the next room, singing a song she'd written about interplanetary travel. I was aware that this song went on a bit – just like space does – so it gave me the perfect opportunity to go through her phone and find a number I needed in order to arrange a birthday surprise for her. She would suspect nothing. I'd put it back where I found it, pointing in the same direction, because we all remember the orientation of things we chuck onto sofas. I even practised the innocent face I'd adopt if she burst into the room asking what I was doing.

But it felt wrong. "Slide to unlock" seemed awfully transgressive. I was entering a restricted area, like an electricity substation, or Balmoral, or backstage at a Leo Sayer gig. This device contained all her emails and text messages going back months or even years, and I became fearful that I'd stumble across something that was none of my business. I squinted at the screen through one eye, grimacing, as if I was being forced to look through an album of autopsy photos.

Of course, not everyone's like me. Statistics that I've just made up reveal that 65 per cent of us regularly go through our partner's phone to check that they aren't concealing a massive bacon habit or having it off with a travel agent. I've never understood this kind of thing.

You're in a perfectly decent relationship, but paranoia prompts you to look for reasons for ending it – the irony being that if you don't find those reasons, your own actions represent such a breach of trust that you yourself deserve to be unceremoniously dumped. As soon as you start going through your partner's phone, your relationship is over.

As you're scrolling through texts with one hand, use the other one to hurl your wedding ring into the recycling. (Assuming that your local council recycles metal. Might be worth checking first.)

Anyway, the birthday surprise went brilliantly, but later that evening my girlfriend's eyes narrowed. "How did you get Claire's number?" she asked. "I, uh, looked in your phone," I replied. "Hmm," she said, disapprovingly. I immediately began wondering what she'd got to hide, and made a mental note to go through her phone in order to find out.

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